#aww2019 · 2019 Reviews · Australian · Beauty and Lace review · biography · memoir · non-fiction

Beauty & Lace Book Review: A Diamond in the Dust by Frauke Bolten-Boshammer with Sue Smethurst

Title: A Diamond in the Dusta diamond in the dust small

Author: Frauke Bolten-Boshammer

Published: November 1st 2018

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 400

Genres:  Non Fiction, Biography, Memoir

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

The powerful true story of how one woman turned outback dust into a diamond empire

Within minutes of landing in Kununurra, Frauke Bolten had made up her mind to get on a plane back home to Germany. It was 1981 and the dusty frontier town was no place for a woman. However, Frauke stayed, determined to help her husband carve out a new life farming. Tragedy struck just three years later when Friedrich took his own life and she was left to raise their family alone.

Twenty-six years after she sold her first necklace off the back porch, Kimberley Fine Diamonds in Kununurra is now home to one of the world’s largest collections of Argyle pink diamonds, with a client list that includes Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Frauke is credited for not only pioneering an industry, but for putting the tiny outback town and its precious diamonds on the map.

A Diamond in the Dust is a tale of love and loss, hardship and heartache, but ultimately the inspiring story of how a young girl from Germany overcame tragedy to pioneer a diamond empire in one of the most unforgiving terrains on earth.

Review:

‘People assumed I had absolutely no idea. They thought I was just the little German housewife who cooked for people on the farm. They underestimated me’.

These words come directly from Frauke Bolten-Boshammer, who is the subject of the memoir, A Diamond in the Dust. Frauke is also the co-narrator of this book which she shares with Sue Smethurst, a senior journalist. A Diamond in the Dust is a very accessible non fiction title, reminding the reader of what it means to be human and survive life’s knocks.

When German born Frauke Bolten arrived in the one of Australia’s most remote locations, Kununurra, which borders the NT and WA, she knew her life was going to be forever changed. This young mother of three had already survived time in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but what she now faced in Australia was something entirely different altogether. Frauke soon learnt of the challenges of living in remote Australia. From farming failures, to threats from Mother Nature and learning to live alongside some the world’s deadliest creatures, Frauke lived to tell the tale. Amongst the daily struggles just to survive, the family faced incredible loss, many lows and the sense of isolation that comes not only from living in the Kimberley, but the distance between their ancestral home in Germany. But Frauke is a pioneer and an entrepreneur. She begins a lucrative business selling diamonds from her backyard to tourists. Eventually this leads to the establishment of her very own diamond empire that specialises in rare pink diamonds. Through it all, Frauke and her family, grow and prosper, but they also are delivered some serious blows. A Diamond in the Dust charts one staunch German woman’s pure grit and determination to prosper in a land that can swallow you whole.

Reading A Diamond in the Dust by Frauke Bolten-Boshammer and Sue Smethurst is a little like being the observer while someone puts on a family projector. Reel upon reel of vivid images of Frauke’s life appeared before my eyes, as I placed my myself in her shoes. Frauke’s journey begins as a young girl in Germany. The book charts her childhood briefly, along with her early career, her courtship to her husband Friedrich, their move to Rhodesia, the family’s return to Germany and eventually their brave move to Kununurra. Each scene in Frauke’s life is well told, so this is an ideal memoir for those who are just starting out to explore non fiction titles.

What I enjoyed the most about A Diamond in the Dust was the fish out of water feeling expressed by Frauke. Her husband is determined not to fail in his new life in Australia, there is no option for him to return to Germany defeated. While Frauke’s young children relish in their new outback life, their mother struggles. We learn a great deal about the migrant experience in Australia. Frauke explains how she experienced language barriers, acclimatising to the heat, difficulties in obtaining food and services and their ignorance in terms of agricultural techniques suitable for Australia. What also pulled me in were the little flourishes on the Bolten’s German background. I loved hearing about the traditional cooking, dish preparation, customs, Christmas celebrations and Frauke’s propensity to open her home to many (including Hollywood stars). She is clearly a generous and giving woman.

What also made this book so genuine were the scenes where Frauke described unwelcome intruders, such as snakes, or a crocodile that was chased out of the house, it was quite unbelievable! It also gives the reader a very conclusive understanding of what everyday life would be like in such an inhospitable land.

Where A Diamond in the Dust succeeds is in its side focus on mental health in rural areas. We learn how suicide does not discriminate and touches the young and old, both male and female in the outback. I hope drawing attention to this through her own personal and painful experiences, Frauke can open up essential channels of conversation that should occur around this vital area of need.

On a different note, I was taken aback by Frauke’s establishment of her diamond business. She truly is a woman to aspire to and her ingenuity meant she soared, high above anyone’s expectations. She is incredibly influential and an excellent figurehead for the Kununurra community and the surrounding Kimberley region.

The only drawback of A Diamond in the Dust that I feel I must highlight is the layout of the book. I welcomed the personal photographs included which added another visual layer to the unfolding life story. However, their particular placement in the text meant that it ruined some of the unfolding story for me, some life events were covered in these photographs which I actually had not read about yet in the memoir, so it was spoiler! Save viewing the photographs until the end!

Frauke Bolten-Boshammer is an everyday hero and we need more books about life’s pioneers. My heartfelt appreciation to Frauke and Sue Smethurst for scripting this excellent memoir on life, love, loss, survival and faith.

A Diamond in the Dust by Frauke Bolten-Boshammer with Sue Smethurst was published on 1st November 2018 by Simon & Schuster. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website please visit here.

A Diamond in the Dust is book #3 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge 

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4 thoughts on “Beauty & Lace Book Review: A Diamond in the Dust by Frauke Bolten-Boshammer with Sue Smethurst

  1. Beautiful review! Another one that will make it to my ‘must read’ list. I’ll be interested to read about Frauke’s German background, and if her recipes, customs and Christmas celebrations are similar to ours. I’m pretty certain in different parts of Germany there are some differences, especially where the cuisine is concerned not sure about the others. Definitely a book I have to try and fit in this year. Having received two review books I will now slightly be behind in my challenges. I didn’t think I’d receive any more review books as my last reviews were not linked to the brand managers email so I really thought receiving review books was over. Lol. Always expect the unexpected!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, it is always a little tricky to evaluate someone’s life through memoir reviews, so I’m glad you liked this review. It was shame Frauke didn’t include recipes from her cooking, it made my mouth water and I wonder how different her traditional dishes are to your own. I would love your opinion on this one so I hope you find it in your travels. Review books? Which ones did you receive? Sorry to hear they have altered your challenge goals, I’m sure you can do it still! Every day for me brings the unexpected book mail wise. Some I know about, yesterday’s arrival was an unsolicited one and sadly not a book from my preferred reading genres 😦

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      1. I’m now behind in my review books, I’ve yet to read The Round Yard, still on the Russian one, and both release on Monday! *sigh*
        If Frauke mentioned some of her recipes you could always Google them. That’s what I have done with my mum’s recipe as it’s not possible to receive them from her anymore and I found the exact ingredients so I’m thrilled!
        Even though the review book might not be from your preferred reading genre it could turn out to be a great read.
        I’m sitting outside on my love swing determined to finish The Last of the Romanov Dancers.

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      2. Lol, aren’t we all! I think its my catchphrase! I do hope you get around to reading The Round Yard. Don’t stress about getting the review in for the release date.

        Yes good idea. I could google them. I have passed the book on to my stepmum now. Nice to hear you have found a way to replicate your own family recipes.
        Yes you are right about that review book. Maybe I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!

        I’m liking the sound of that swing!

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